Extract from Images of England web site

SO 80 NW7/247
10.1.55 GV II


Church House (formerly listed as The School)

Probable former almonry, used as church house, school, now village hall incorporating offices of ERFA, a company offering First Aid and Health and Safety Training.

The structure is mainly C16, on core possibly of C14, possibly built in 2 stages, restored c1844. Random coursed and dressed stone, stone slate roof, with coped verges and ashlar stacks of C19 with twin diagonally set flues to ridge and north end. Single long range of 2 storeys and attic, with stepped buttresses to south end only, from approximately halfway along length. Arched light stone mullioned windows with square hoodmoulds, mostly 2-light on west side, and 3- light on east side. Some replaced or inserted windows of C19 and C20. Five window bays to each side, two C19 three-light gabled dormers to east. North end has chamfered pointed arch doorway on each side, south end has 4-centred archway with enriched spandrels and square hoodmould to each side. On east side at north end a blocked doorway with very large flush stone lintel, possibly from original structure of which some walling appears to be incorporated in north gable end wall. Interior much altered in C19 but retains one 4-centred archway on left of similar doorway on west side, possibly originally an external doorway. (VCH, Gloucestershire, Vol X, 1972)


CHURCH HOUSE – a History

Extract taken from an article in the Citizen by R.J. Mansfield
(Date of article unsure – probably early 1990s or before.)


“Church Houses” is a term which is properly applied to buildings which were erected near village churches to serve as a kind of community centre.

In the Middle Ages it seems that parishioners used the nave of their churches for all kinds of gatherings, legal, social and even commercial since the church was usually the only place where it was possible to gather most of the people at the same time.

The authorities however, frowned upon this practice and in due course they drove the “church ales”, fairs and markets first into the churchyard and then outside the gates.

In the West Country in particular the answer of the people was to build a “church house” as near to the church as they could where the old activities could be carried on unhindered.

Most of the surviving church houses are to be found in Devon, but Gloucestershire possesses a few which can still be recognised though they have passed through several usages. Perhaps the most typical – although it was not built for this purpose – is to be found at Standish, near Stonehouse.

The Manor of Standish belonged to the monks of Gloucester and its revenues were applied for the purpose of charity. The Almoner lived on the site where Standish Court stands and his gateway with its pointed arch still remains. Just before the dissolution on the monasteries Abbot Parker established a fraternity there under a Prior. There were to be 13 brethren “clothed in black gown and mantles with the abbey arms embroidered on their right shoulders and a red and blue cross at their breasts”. It seems that the building now called the Church House was erected for the use of the priory.

However this priory disappeared altogether with all the other monastic institutions and this Almonry became the property of the new Lord of the Manor and his successors, among whom was Sir Henry Winston, whose daughter married the grandfather of the great Duke of Marlborough and brought the name of Winston into the Churchill family. Sir Henry’s memorial in the church is a fine piece of Heraldic design.

And so the Almonry became a Church House, although in private ownership, and has been for many years a centre for the social life of the parish. It was used as a village school for 124 years, from 1839 – 1963 and passed out of private ownership when it was accepted by the government in lieu of death duties from the Sherborne estate. It is now the property of the Parochial Church Council and now that the school has closed it properly fulfils the role of a Church House, being used for harvest suppers and all kinds of parish activities.

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